Antigen presentation and the association of class-I molecules.
Elliott TJ., Cerundolo V., Ohlen C., Ljunggren HG., Karre K., Townsend A.
We have identified two mutant cell lines which are not able to present epitopes of influenza virus synthesized in the cytoplasm but can present the same epitope when exposed to it as a peptide in the extracellular medium. The cell lines also have a defect in class-I assembly, with reduced expression of assembled alpha chain: beta 2M heterodimers at their cell surface. This led to the suggestion that the two traits were the result of the same mutation and that stable assembly of class-I molecules is dependent on peptide binding. Consistent with this idea was the finding that exposure to specific peptides in the extracellular fluid promotes stable association of class-I heavy chains with beta 2M and restores expression of class-I at the cell surface. We have gone on to show that stable assembly of class-I molecules can be supported in detergent extracts of the mutant cells when specific peptides are added. Peptides stabilized a conformational change in the class-I heavy chain and association with beta 2M by binding to the complexes. This effect is apparent at peptide concentrations around 100-fold lower than required in "peptide feeding" experiments with whole cells. We have also demonstrated that the conformational change induced in heavy chain is influenced by the concentration of beta 2M, and consequently have been able to demonstrate the formation of empty class-I molecules.